First of all, get a hold on all the material necessary to begin. You’ll need new material along the way. Depending on the design you choose and the material ($) at your disposition, you’ll need more or less stuff and one or another type.
I will describe my development process to build the speakers:
Here you use any magnet that has the characteristic of being “anisotropic”, this means that it’s magnetized through it’s largest dimension, these can be either ceramic ferrite/strontium magnets. The strontium ones are stronger and are better considering the fact that they can be set closer to one another without affecting their magnetic field as much as with other types. The Danish project used 102 magnets (42mm x 7,7mm x 9mm) (length, width, thickness) for the woofer and 60 magnets (50mm x 19 x 5mm) for the tweeter section, thus twice the amount for a pair of speakers.
Considering the fact that magnets are cheaper if bought in large quantities, you can consider buying them together with other builders.
2- I started experimenting with common household material, kitchen plastic foil, chocolate paper as foil and cardboard as a frame, then later wood as the frame material and bigger membranes.
3- Once the principle and concept was proven to work, I started getting the material for the full-scale prototype.
4- Found the best place to buy wood, if you can buy the pieces cut out while you purchase, all the better, if they can also make the inner cuts, fantastic. Remember to get a piece cut to use as a transitory foot/base for your loudspeaker, in my case, it’s the definitive base. It is here you make your first decisions, will you build the frame out of one solid piece, or a series of thinner plates stuck together, maybe mixing wood with some other stronger material.
5- At this moment you’ll have to decide if you want to paint the design, I didn’t with the prototype.
6- Go searching for the perforated iron plate and decide what thickness you want, depending on your possibilities to cut it, your budget and the sound considerations. Try to have a perforated plate with a lot of holes, with at least 50% air with respect to the iron. Thus you’ll avoid making the speaker even less effective.
7- Find a place where they can cut the plate to you specifications, remember to get the plate cut to the size you made the holes in your wood plate, but even BETTER, get the plate cut before to your specified sizes and cut the wood plate correspondingly. Or even better, have the thickness of the wood plate adapt to the size of the magnets so you don’t need to adapt to the perforated plate that way the iron plate will be screwed directly on to the plate, so its size will only need to be a bit smaller than the MDF frame size.
The woofer hole should be cut based on the size of the membrane you’ll be using for the woofer part of the flat speakers, just follow the following proportions:
This gives you a trapezium form for the membrane, which helps to propagate the vibrations and eliminates standing waves on the membrane, etc.
How big the dimensions really are, depends a lot on the design of your project, the width of your MDF plate, the thickness of your magnets, etc. In my project, the magnets were not too wide, the MDF plate was very thick and the distance I wanted to place the magnets, due to their low magnetic field strength, made me put the magnets 2mm from the membrane, that meant the perforated iron plate had to be cut to fit the woofer membrane hole.
The original Danish design, due to a thin plate, thick magnets and thanks to the strength of the magnets, could have the perforated plate screwed directly to the back of the MDF wood plate, this made the design easier and faster to build, less “engineering” and precision involved.
8- Find the membrane material, a strong, thin, resistant plastic, non-stretchable, not affected by atmospheric conditions, humidity, etc. I recommend Mylar, you may find something else, tell me about it.
9- Find the foil you’ll use. I had a very hard time finding the chocolate foil paper here in Chile. I will not tell you where I found it, you won’t have such a hard time. In Denmark, it is sold in the Supermarket. You could go to a paper store.
10- Make experiments with your foil material, you need to determine it’s resistance. Thus you’ll be able to determine the length of foil you’ll need to fulfill the 3-4 Ohm resistance the membrane circuit should have. I will talk about that later.
11- The glue is a 3M product, there may be a number of competitors where you live, here in Chile it was my only option at that moment. Practice using it, it’s effectivity, how much should
you use, the wrist movement, etc.
12- Get the required amounts of L aluminum profiles, these you’ll use to hold the metal plate with the magnets close to the membrane,
if you chose a 30 mm MDF fibreboard like I did, the magnets must be placed with the plate, closer to the membrane than those 30 mm, I wanted them to be 2 mm. from it, so the plate was placed approx. 20 mm into the MDF board. The L-profiles let you hold the distance constant.
The L- Profiles are also used to stretch the membrane.